November 2020

Those with Type 2 Diabetes Can Walk Their Way to Heart Health


The beauty of walking is that it’s so simple an exercise. It doesn’t require fancy equipment or a lot of skill. And it can be done just about anywhere, anytime.

Despite its simplicity, however, walking has some weighty health benefits. It can help you burn calories, tone muscles, cut stress, boost your energy, and tame your appetite.

While these benefits apply to anyone, people who have type 2 diabetes may reap other gains from walking. In a study of almost 3,000 U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes, those who walked at least 2 hours a week were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than sedentary patients. They also had a 39% lower death rate from all causes.

Whether or not you have type 2 diabetes, though, your heart health may benefit from a walking program. If you’re interested in getting started, this advice may help:


•        Pick a walking path that is safe, well-used, and well-lit.

•        When you’re ready to pound the pavement, wear comfortable shoes with nonskid, flexible soles and sturdy heel support.

•        Use proper technique. Walk with your shoulders held slightly back and your toes pointed forward. Swing your arms naturally while you move.

•        Start slowly. Walk at an easy pace for 5 minutes, then up your speed. When you’re almost ready to stop, walk slowly again for 5 minutes.

•        Over the next couple of weeks, try walking faster and for longer periods of time.

•        Squeeze more walking time into your routine. Keep walking shoes in your car so that you can walk while doing errands or take a stroll during your lunch break at work.

•        If you have heart disease or other chronic health problems, check with your healthcare provider before starting a walking program. The same is true if you are older than age 40 and have not exercised in a while.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2020
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